Punk rock trio Dal Santo keep moving forward after a tragic loss

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Punk rock trio Dal Santo keep moving forward after a tragic loss

Dal Santo
Words by Christine Tsimbis

Punk/reggae rockers Dal Santo are excited to release their second album Patong Beach, which was inspired by their trip to Thailand after the devastating loss of their friend and drummer.

The remaining duo, John Gaurav and James Donnoli, spent weeks trying to heal by playing live shows at the beachside location and, in the process, rediscovered themselves by creating unique new music.

“We lost a member of the band a couple of years back, about a year after releasing our first album, and we took some time off,” vocalist Gaurav says. “Jimi and myself – we went away to Thailand for a few weeks, and it was there that we started playing a few acoustic shows at Patong Beach.

“We reunited the spark a little bit, since we were able to engage an audience. We played the acoustic shows that were given to us; most notably we played at a fish market in front 200 people. We were really able to engage and capture a crowd of a couple hundred people with just the two of us, that’s what made it.

“It reminded us why we play music and what we love most about it, and that inspired the concept of the next album coming out, Patong Beach.”

At this stage, Gaurav and Donnoli weren’t in the mental space of Dal Santo and decided to give their project another name, one which came from the most unlikely of sources.

“While we were playing there, we weren’t sure – we didn’t think of ourselves as Dal Santo anymore,” Gaurav says. “We actually saw that there was a cigarette brand over there named ‘Krong Tip’, but we misread it and thought it was ‘Krong Pong’ so we started to call ourselves ‘Krong Pong’ as a duo.

“One of the locals actually told us that it means ‘the fat lazy foreigner’, which has kind of added to our character onstage. I think the translation of Krong Tip means ‘relaxing cigarette’ or something like that, but when you swap out Tip for Pong, it means something completely different. We found it extremely funny, it boosted the mood onstage and it brought a whimsical persona to some of our shows.”

Inspiration for their new album came from other sources too, and it was the opportunity to work with Will Casserly at Plastic Jungle Records that also gave Gaurav and Donnoli impetus.

“It was fantastic – Will Casserly has definitely got a knack of pulling out ideas from the deepest corners of your brain,” Gaurav says. “I think he definitely takes time to get the right results and sometimes we would experiment and do things that were really weird, but ended up being fantastic.

“There’s one track on the album called ‘Leave The Light On’ which we actually recorded on Hoddle Street in Abbotsford. It was the first acoustic track we ever recorded, Will had this vision in his mind and he knew that our sound is very much something that should be accessed from all sorts of places.

“That was the best way to capture that, rather than having a bunker down in a studio room, on a busy place like Hoddle Street where you can actually hear the traffic on the track as well.”

Despite the loss and heartbreak they’ve endured, Gaurav and Donnoli have learnt through their experiences not to take life too seriously.

“Sometimes when you have those moments, such as calling ourselves Krong Pong without really realising what we were calling ourselves, it’s those moments when you realise not to take life too seriously,” Donnoli explains.

“We attained that feeling where even though there might be difficult moments in your life, you need to find a way to laugh it off sometimes – laughter is the best medicine for that kind of thing, when you’ve gone through some serious issues in your life. Everyone has those rollercoasters of emotion and it’s about finding that something that will turn it around a little bit.”

Dal Santo’s new album Patong Beach is out now on streaming services. The band launch the record at The Evelyn Hotel on Thursday August 22. Grab your tickets via the venue website.